Monday, October 20, 2014

AMERICANS IN NEPAL - a travel movie.

my first ever travel "documentary" piece, jam-packed with musical deliciousness and editing goodness.  SUCH A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY.

mauritius in november.

xx // sk

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


for those of you first-class rascals & economy lovebirds who are not cursed enough to be a glistening limb on my Facebook network tree, here is the compilation of Nepal culture notes, people watching blips, fun factoids, senseless travel thoughts & more - as collected and not too carefully documented by yours truly.  i've also left the original photos attached to each of the posts.  ;)

you'll see there were 10 days of bits, including a very frosty-eyed review and reflection on my entire stay, the current state of Nepal and its sweet little, cuddly people.  i realized after reading this, that is is likely the most comprehensive, one-shot writeup of any nepal trip i could find online.  

go writing!

from day 1 to 10, here are the notes!  the travel vid is under production and once it is finished, it shall be posted here as well for your eye-nourishment.  FUN!?!?!?!?!  cheers & an uncomfortably suave handshake to all.


NEPAL CULTURE NOTES // day 1, post 46hr. arrival voyage.

*i'll start off by saying that kathmandu looks like an absolute war zone. but in a good way.
*dave & I connected in Doha airport in front of a 40ft. fake stuffed teddy bear that had half a desk lamp for a head. true story...still don't get it??
*there are NO sidewalks here and you truly are in constant danger of getting run over, and that's zero exaggeration.
*about that last bit, locals are absolutely numb to this and I can't believe I didn't witness at least 3 or 4 vehicular homicides today. you're almost constantly surprised that you didn't get run over "that time".
*there are also ZERO street signs or stop lights here so people drive however they went wherever they want...lol
*kathmandu has approximately 3 million people but it seems/feels much larger, probably because no buildings are tall?
*to probably nobody's surprise, there are 7 trillion dogs everywhere and they all look exactly the same. kind of like dirty, bony oreo cookies. so sad!
*got offered drugs 3x already so that was pretty gnarly
*so so shocked to not see ONE American restaurant or store here. that's truly unheard of...
*everything here is pretty stankin' cheap. .30 cents for a huge bottle of water, $2 average plate of food, hotel $4 a night, big 40lb. real bronze Buddha statue $50, massive nepal flag $4.50. I'll add to this...it's still too early!
scooters & dirt bikes make up 60% of the road traffic, ford festivas (AMAZING!) which were stopped in production in 1992 make up another 25% and the rest is whatever...mostly funny shaped tiny vans w/90 people in them
*every other car or van here has a huge "SPORTS" word decal on it...maybe something to do with athletics being cool?? not sure?? my favorite one I've spotted three times, a man chasing a cheetah in late 80s pixel graphic
*lots of veggies and rice and chicken dishes
*a 1-star hotel in the U.S. would be a 4-star here I guarantee you
*we are actually staying in a TripAdvisor 2013 Best Hotels winner if you wanna stalk the Festoon Hotel. super nice staff, I'll spill on the room later. 
*nepali rupees are fun money because they have rhinos and elephants and gazelles and all kinds of sweet animals on them
*the Nepalese (men mostly) are not afraid to take a risk on a haircut...something to be said for that!
*everyone has their own small shop. literally EVERYONE. there are no big businesses or stores of any sort
*some locals have heard of Columbus, Ohio and some have not...the Nepalese do love to identify with you tho and share what they know about the states

*i'd type more tonight but I'm falling over passing out while writing this...

IF you didn't know, Dave and I are getting up at 4:30am tomorrow morn for our Lukla flight so if we're off the grid for 5-6 days, that's where we're at, deep in the Himalayas! I'll post whenever I possibly can...esp once the Everest pics surface.

be good to each other everybody...we're all in this together. 

cheers & love, sk

Swayambhunath under siege by the clouds.


*so our flight got canceled after us waiting at the mini airport for 5 hours. we weren't too surprised as it's REALLY tough to get in and out of Lukla, so tomorrow we try for round 2 and may have to resort to a helicopter.
*what I did notice at the airport was Willem Dafoe's Nepalese twin!! he looked EXACTLY like Willem and I would've had a pic with him if we didn't think he was a serial killer who takes his shovel everywhere he goes if you know what I mean by that
*i've now had enough time here to declare my official citizen averages. the average Nepali man, 5'5, 140lbs. woman, 5'1", 120lbs.
*i've seen one genuinely obese person here as they are all pretty small and fit. the flip of that...I've yet to see one Nepali male or female with any muscles at all! which is kinds fun and odd
*we've not seen a single gym either.
*i've come to the conclusion that a lot of Nepalese have jobs and get paid to sit around and do absolutely nothing. yes we've all seen it in the U.S., but I'm talking half of the entire supermarket staff sitting on steps and taking selfies kinda nothing.
*a Mustang Coffee is coffee, butter & rum, a Sherpa Punch is lemon, honey, cinnamon, hot water and rum. both of these are hot numbers w/the Sherpa community.
*Nepali bros do not grow beards
*Nepali people are VERY sweet but 99.9% of the time they're going to ask you for money or a favor after said sweetness. true story, this annoying guy made a phone call for us and then said, "help me out", I then offered him the equivalent of one U.S. penny in Nepali rupees and he said "don't worry about it, that's nothing"...felt like a win. ;P
*almost all of Nepal is Hindu but there are some Buddhists and a growing chunk of converting Christians who don't want to be stuck in the lowest caste for life, almost no Muslims.
*there is little to no diversity here as far as complexion, visual ethnicity or size goes. almost everyone is little & tan & I love it. they're all adorable!!!!!!
*i've seen one iPhone, the rest like Nokia, or samsung or whatever
*self-correction, there is a KFC here and a Pizza Hut. of all places!?!?! what human being still likes Pizza Hut??? no Starbucks.
*Nepal had one athlete in the Sochi Olympics. he lost.
*Nepal has the most amazing places to stay for $10-$15. SERIOUSLY!
*most sit down meals here cost about $3
*you can't drink the water! even the bottled water Dave and I joked was scooped out of the river where they dump cremated people's ashes
*the Nepalese can fit 6 people in a Ford Festiva, and they do it with class and elegance.
*99% of Nepalese women have significantly long hair.
*there are not many smokers here and this make me so excite and happy!
*heard a Collective Soul cover band tonight, no lie
*if we don't get offered drugs at this point!p, we assume we're no longer considered "the cool kids"...lol
*Nepali babies are the cutest thing on the entire planet. if you're reading this and you have a baby, or have had a baby, and my future babies are included in this - but they're not as cute as a Nepali baby. if you don't believe me, perform google search "typical Nepalese baby" and if you still disagree, you're just being bias. I'm TELLING YOU! 
*Kathmandu does not have a "nice area"...nor a "worse area", it seriously all looks the same. take that from 5 hours touring the city in a car in 2 days.
*in many ways, this city feels dated to the late 70s, there just isn't any money or resources to update for build new things
*there are no visible homeless here, most everyone is just scraping to get by
*since they have a rainy season, people drive their scooters sand motos wearing deluxe customized ponchos that look like little tents. I'll attach one for your pleasure
*the highlight of my day was finding (/meeting my dream vehicle) a pint-sized red van sitting on 12"s that had a decal on its side that read for whatever unknown but amazing reason, "LOVE IS BLIND". photo included! but seriously, whoever decided to put that on the side of their flashy new toy van is an incredible person. also imperative to know, sponsored by Adidas...YESSSSSS

*im sure I could write many more but we were out from 5am today until 9pm, have to wake again tomorrow at 4:15am and I'm sleeeeepy. still hafta add pics too!

sending all my best...hope these make you smile or appreciate what you have. BIG NEPALI NATION LOVE // sk

**added love to my boo radley, 8000 miles away we still got to chat tonight. 

Sent from my iPad
 — at Kathmandu. Napal

indeed, "LOVE IS BLIND"

NEPAL CULTURE NOTES // day 3 // judgement day

*Nepalese peeps are not interested in forming lines, they will go straight to the front if there is one inch of counter space...lol.  maybe less even.
*the galaxy 2S is the newest phone released here
*the average Japanese tourist is the happiest person alive, results typical but not guaranteed
*from all of my world travels, I can assure you two snacks that are EVERYWHERE and there would be global collapse if they were not.  Pringles and Oreos.
*in a battle of who wears more jewelry in their face, I like to think that the Nepalese are slightly edged out by the Indians.  it would certainly be a tight race though...
*for those who do not know, Nepal borders China and India, Bangladesh and Pakistan
*the easiest way to get into controversial Tibet is through the northern Nepali border
*from my tourist talks & convos, it is a 99% likelihood that EVERYONE here has a brother, sister or relative who is a citizen in the U.S.  all states included in this notion.
*the average Nepali lives off of $550USD per year and once you're here, you can actually see that take shape.  this is why it drives me CRAZY to see girls brag & post pics of Coach handbags and their MK heels or whatever, seriously, they're just bags and shoes and ultimately, just stuff.  ;P  sorry for being negative & what not, but think beyond your possessions ya know?  :)
*saw our first gas station today!  in a city with 3 million people, it took us about 8 hours in the car to see one.
*80-90% of Nepalese have arranged marriages.  they meet for 5 minutes, then have a chat and give the thumbs up or thumbs down.  true story
*a DUI in Nepal costs $10.  not kidding.  you also have to attend a one hour class the next day.  SUPES HARSH BRO!
*Nepal has the only living goddess in the world and she is called the Kumari.  I could write an entire paper on how fascinating and insane the process is to pick the girl who gets the title and her ridiculous life thereafter.  check it out
*13 years ago the brother of Nepal's king was jealous of the throne so he killed his entire family (including women children) so he could take over.  NUTS!!
*after your father dies in Nepal, his sons have to wear ALL white for an entire year and the bonus perk, since dad is gone, they do not have to wear a motorcycle helmet and "have no laws against them" on the road, and they can do "whatever they want" which they do anyway.  all of that is true and I'm still trying to connect the dots myself
*the swastika is very prevalent here but not to honor Adolf's insane little cult (WW2 Germany), but for another purpose which I haven't researched or asked about yet
*i said it before but I'm taking it to another level.  not only are Nepalese men bold and brave when it comes to trying new hairstyles (RESPECT.), but I'd argue they take second to no one in this category.
*the drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara is VERY comparable to riding the Mean Streak at Cedar Point for 7 hours straight, maybe without rails though...and on lots of speed, and with a random rockslide in the 2-lane every 5 or 20 minutes
*nepalese women wear little makeup minus a touch of eye stuff and the red paint on the forehead
*strangely enough, Twizzlers are really expensive here.  like $4 for a small bag of them.  bizarre!
*movie tickets are 80 cents here, 2 dollars at the "good cinema"
*speaking of hair, I have laid witness to an absorbent number of rat tail hairstyles the last few days and it is wildly inspiring to say THE LEAST
*in the countryside, a lot of people do their laundry in the street side waterfalls
*we popped a tire on the way to Pokhara today after I told Dave...we're good for at least one tire popping.  and so it was.  pic of said bursting attached
*i ordered a coffee labeled in the menu as "coffee the way Americans drink it".  it was about 700 oz. and 90% sugar...not sure what they're saying about us here.  :P

love & literally passing out, sk

Pokhara dreamboat view of Macchapuchre


*i currently have a leach in my ankle and he is feasting like a starved hyena. he is affectionately named Edward Cullen
*the Nepalese love tea and will offer it to you everywhere you go
*the red paint on the upper part of a Nepali woman's forehead shows that she is married...kinda like our ring finger bit
*the average Nepali male/femme get married between 20 & 25
*online dating is a no go in Nepal, it just doesn't exist really
*about 50% of Nepali speak SOME basic English. young people it's almost a guarantee they know some, older, not so much
*yesterday our driver to Pokhara played a 21-minute song that literally has ONE VERSE and all they do is switch from a guy to a girl and they just keep repeating the exact same verse over and over and over again
*there are cows that hang out in the middle of the busiest street in all. of pokhara and just lay on the road. I asked our guide if they're someone's pets (Hindus don't eat cows) and he said yeah. cow pets on the busiest street in the city!
*speaking of cows, they cremate them when they die and dump their ashes in the river
*if I didn't already mention it, this also happens with Nepali fathers. when they kick the bucket, their eldest son wraps their body in straw, sets them on fire in public (Pashtaputin Temple) and dumps his ashes in the drink as well. true story that
*our hotel room tonight has two beds with different floral patterns and has one light bulb, one outlet and when I asked for towels, the lady helping us had to walk across the village to get us some...lol.
*nepal's most notable natural wildlife are the yak (LOADS), red panda, snow leopard, monkey and rhino.
*nepalese cats have a different look to them, they have wider, narrow eyes, a more triangular-shaped head and pointier ears. sample size, about 9 cats
*a few years ago, Nepali people were VERY HIGH on Yahoo messenger and used it for hook-ups. random!
*nepali brides wear all red on the day of their wedding - unlike our white. 
*according to our guide, about half of kathmandu citizens have never even left the city and probably won't ever. he said it's because everything you need is there
*if Pokhara is a cool breeze of nature loving tourism and relatively quiet city streets, Kathmandu is a brutally murderous tempest of a blender full of mostly locals who are stuck in the stagnant nature of their struggling economy
*Pokhara has no American chains except for the four Baskin Robbins I saw in a matter of one city mile...FOUR Baskin Robbins???? WHAT??????
*our hotel room at the distinguished Shangri-La in Pothana has two light bulbs (both very dull) and one power outlet in the entire room & bathroom combined. color me surprised!
*a lady should never give away her secrets but when I travel, I feel strangely obligated to eat some form of pizza and drink lattes every single day. haven't been able to do that here! 
*so it turns out I have two leaches...one in each ankle in the exact same spot. what a bunch of monkey business!
*saw a random mini medical clinic in a village of about 50 today that had a sign that shows them offering safe abortions there. out/up here???! that's absolutely bananas
*on an almighty grand scale of averages, the Nepalese are cuter than the average culture by a landslide. the wonderful natives of Cusco are right there as well. 
*Dave and I tried the local wine today (Raksi) and it was not enjoyable. Dave got sick and is having "flashbacks"
*the Nepalese do not look like the Chinese, Japanese, Indian or any other South-Eastern Asia country...they have a distinct look.  if i had to pick two countries to mesh, I'd say mix an Indian with a Japanese and you'll be close. not racist! 

okay I'm so fading so so fast...crazy day! time to get some ZZZ's and prep for tomorrow's 7hr adventure. 

be good to each other everyone and don't be afraid to dream outside of your country. there's an entire world out here waiting to grow you. 

night night ///// xx, sk

digging into the trails, fog, villages


this might be more of a story notes, than a culture notes, but it's certainly a notes notes. 

I'll also preface this by saying I can't add a stunning or funny photo because the wifi signal. it sometimes takes up to one minute or longer just to send a simple text. so on with it!

*today we went from baking sun to getting caught in a monsoon in a matter of ten seconds or so?
* the story behind the monsoon piece is that I was filming a small bit on the bridge with my small Canon, large Nikon strapped and swinging from my shoulder and iPhone slinged near my pocket. trekking pole in my left hand. so three cams attached, just getting on this wobbly suspension bridge and it starts pouring out of NOWHERE. so I sprint across the bridge and slip a couple times without falling , hunched over to protect my cameras from the mighty rain (they all got soaked) and finally made it to the other side and fell trying to race up the steps to hurry and get my cameras and phone in my pack. everyone else made it across and we all got absolutely soaked, but made it to our hotel after a total of 9 hrs trekking today. I think the end piece was around 1,000 steps (rocks) in sequence.
*when you're at the elevation we're in, the mountains come and go for split seconds at a time. you're not looking up at the clouds, you're in them and the huge peaks often hide behind them.
*do NOT sleep on the Nepali sun, even if it doesn't feel that hot outside. my arms and neck are torched!...after neglecting sound advice to wear sunscreen. oops!
*the leaches here mean business as well. Dave got indoctrinated today with a solid 4 bleeding bites and I managed to accumulate a triumphant 9, with 6 in one single zone. they totes adore my left ankle. 
*after we got blasted by the rain we had about an hour and a half left. this random black dog from the village we stopped in followed us the rest of the way (all 1000 steps+) to our next spot...which I think is called Jhinu? I can't keep up anymore since we stay somewhere different every single night.
*we've come across our first Americans yet today at our current hotel (Hot Spring Cottage & Restaurant) and there is a dad and his teen son. they are currently playing some sort of bloodsport version of UNO as the son is screaming at the top of his lungs every single game. Dave and I can hear him perfect with an entire room between us. wow!
*hotels in these parts usually come with one outlet in the entire room and it likely will not work.
*we crossed 6 suspension bridges today with the longest one being the one we got rained on --- not too long, maybe 200 ft?
*wednesday morning we've booked a driver to take us to the longest suspension bridge in the world (I think!) as it's an hour outside pokhara and we wanna cross it. if all goes well, the pics/vid should be INSANE. 
*if you didn't know, my cousin walt's fantastical wife Lauren is going to take all my vid clips from this trip and edit them down to a couple minutes of the best stuff and make a legit video of them. VERY EXCITE FOR THIS! if it turns out fabulous, I'll crank one out in Mauritius as well. 
*when in these parts, ALWAYS order the most predictable food as possible. trust us.
*also, interesting but makes sense that the further you get into these trekking routes, the more the price of everything goes up. everything has to be carried in by a porter in large quantities strapped to their backs so it makes sense that the further it has to be carried into the route, the higher the price goes. a large bottled water in Kathmandu is between 25-30 cents where on Anna Purna base camp, it goes for $2.50. they're 85 cents around here. 
*they offer a lot of tuna dishes here because it preserves well through long porter routes and such. haven't seen beef, turkey or pork at all yet.
*for whatever reason, this mountain wifi just can't handle Instagram, so I'm unable to post on there right now. wah wah wahhhh
*most rural Nepali friends eat with their bare hands and use no utensils.
*ostrich pizza is the most unique dish I've seen yet.
*many of you probably already know this but when a climber dies on Mt. Everest, they literally just leave him/her on the mountain. too dangerous to try and bring them down...whoa baby!

and I think that's about all I've got for today! being out here with just us four guys, I don't have all kinds of funny question and observation time like in the city so I share the best I can. 

time for dinner! sending all my best! now go tell someone how sad and lacking your life would be without them. it might be exactly what they're wanting to hear today. 

 — with David Osorno Vargas.

sunsetting on the valley,

NEPAL CULTURE NOTES// day 6 leech armageddon 

*hate to use another bloody foot picture for my culture notes intro but I couldn't resist after landing at our hotel today and finding 15 leech bites and about 10 still-alive rascals in my shoes. IMPRESSIVE! the nice thing is that once you get over the creepiness of being sucked dry by a leech, it becomes kind of funny
*i bled ALL OVER the community hot shower...lol
*a small dash of salt will kill a leech almost instantly
*there are a lot of chickens, dogs, cows, leeches and goats roaming freely here. very few cats or anything else really?
*we've yet to meet a rude or mean Nepali person, they're all quite sweet, little and humble!
*if we have decent wifi tonight, I'm going to try and post a strong number of photos so I apologize in advance for the pic-bomb!
*speaking of wifi, today is the first time we've stayed somewhere and not had to pay extra for it. the last two mountain villages charged us $1 and $2 each respectively. 
*if you have google earth and wonder where we are, type in Ghandruk and that's where we be for the eve!
*after a 5-hour trek tomorrow we get out of the mtns and back to Pokhara after a snappy visit to that massive suspension bridge
*our guide Yem is on level 635 on Candy Crush. 635!!! I don't play it but I know that's ridiculously high!
*our last hotel room is the first place I've ever stayed in my life without a mirror or sink. way hardcore!
*Nepal has red bull but also a local energy drink which I can't pronounce because Nepalese looks like a bunch of wild squiggly lines.
*i have yet to see a Pepsi since our arrival.
*Nepal has 30 million people, less than a tenth of the U.S.
*Nepalese people are incredibly resourceful and waste almost nothing. trust me on this.
*the hotel staffer today let me borrow some nail clippers...lol
*when trekking and you come to a crossroads or looking for your hotel in a village! Dave and I have a saying that "when in doubt, take the one with more steps"...it. sounds cute and innocent but I bet we did around 2,500 steps today-ish. it's hard to calculate since sometimes you're climbing waterfall rocks that are all crazy, wet and jagged. everyday I think to myself, today comes my slip and life-ending concussion. or I could just lose one more of my remaining three senses. 
*you never TRULY APPRECIATE something until it's taken away from you. we're experiencing a whole lot of that right now, but I look at it as a positive reminder. as Americans, we're blessed in comfort beyond our wildest cognizance. we're just used to our comfortable lives and there's nothing wrong with that, it's just kinda awesome to step out of that cozy zone and re-appreciate everything at an entirely new level.
*every place we go has the exact same menu but it's quite western-friendly. for what it's worth, the Nepalese love Dal Bhat and eat it on average twice a day. rice, pickles, curry, vegetables.
*married Nepalese folks usually sleep in separate bedrooms. fascinating!

k it's about time for Dave & I to supp! IF the wifi is decent later (and these loud, chain-smoking Italians don't suck up all the bandwidth), I'll post tons of fun/jazzy photos!

all my best travel love,
 — with David Osorno Vargas.

a murder scene in my socks


*nepali men in the highest caste have the distinguished honor of wearing a well-centered rat tail hairstyle.
*there are five castes and the lowest caste reside primarily in the countryside.
*there exists NO sedan in Nepal. strictly ford festivas, jingle trucks and bikes of all sorts.
*there is no pattern in Nepali tourists, everyone is from an entirely different place than the next person.
*some more fun pricing, large pack of Happydent brand gum - 20 cents, tshirt - approximately $4, sit down meal - usually around $3, average hotel - $8-12 a night, cup of coffee in a restaurant - .50 cents
*if you wanted to, you could easily stay here for 2 weeks for $300 total (room, food, sights). even a crappy/blah holiday inn in the U.S. costs $100 nowadays. then again, they give you TP...haha
*nepali hotels, inns, etc. do not assume you'll need toilet paper as it has yet to be in our room, we have to ask for it every single time...lol
*broke up a 4 on 1 dog fight this morning by chasing the four bullies away by attempting to splash water on them only to throw it on Dave...oops!
*do not be surprised if you're driving in the Nepali highway and a waterfall is crossing the street, literally
*sad for Nepal, every time you pass a school building there is a donation box attached just to keep the school going with the proper supplies, etc. sad. 
*at 1 a.m. last night I was awakened by what I thought was the sound of a goat being slaughtered. after some rudimentary logic, I deduced that A) how many times can you slaughter the same goat in sequence? and B) based on my elementary knowledge about goat slaughter, it usually doesn't happen indoors at one in the morning. unless it's some sort of Tom Cruise seance or whatever. therefore, I came to the wise conclusion that the same loud Italians that were keeping me awake by talking about legalizing weed earlier were the same ones who were partaking in some sort of after hours adult wrestling competition in which the girl seemed to keep losing. rant over...just had to share. 
*probably didn't help my sleep that someone replaced my pillow filling with a mixture of Quikrete and Post Grape Nuts cereal. 
*gas here is $5 a gallon. considering how little the average Nepali makes, that's STIFF!
*nepali men are a fan of the WWE
*original nepali TV shows have a TON of funny sound effects and cartoon noises interwoven in the script. I'd say literally one every 5 seconds
*nepali people know they are little
*people take naps here literally on the ground by the side of the highway. I've only seen it twice, but hey...gutsy!
*also worth noting that 98% of Nepali highways are wide enough for 1.5 cars so when two cars come at opposite directions, one usually ends up driving in the dirt or deep in the grass
*no leeches today (I know everyone is bummed) because we didn't walk on much water and didn't deal with any stankin rain
*Hindus have millions (I think 3 or 300 million I forget) of gods they pray to but before they pray to any god, they first must pray to Ganesh (the elephant headed one) for good luck
*i found out that the swastika symbol that is prevalent here means "good luck"

sorry to make this Notes short but I'm falling over tired and if all goes to plan, we have a big hopeful plan for tomorrow. don't wanna jinx ourselves and share, but it should be amazing,

we did cross the world's longest suspension bridge ever today! there will be good clips of it (and my horrible narration) in my video once it's finished editing.  I'll add pics tonight! I can assure you tho, NONE do it proper justice! ;P

off I go...sending my best dehydrated & comatose love, xx/sk
 — with David Osorno Vargas.

kushma suspension bridge


*Nepal doesn't use any coins in their currency. their smallest bill is the 5 rupee and it's worth a little less than half a U.S. penny
*Kathmandu is a little over 4,000 feet above sea level. not quite mile high status, but you can feel the difference when you try to yawn and it doesn't complete itself like a normal yawn would...if that makes any sense
*tourism is Nepal's #1 industry and it's not even close
*there is so much North Face knock off here, you could clothe an entire small continent of naked people. for example, a rain jacket $10, a large ruck $25.
*so today's big hopeful surprise fell short due to fog/clouds in Pokhara / Annapurna. tomorrow we target a different dream!
*the best way to "barter" is to get their first offer, cut it in half, walk away and get exactly 50% of their offer in cash out and say, "I can pay right now or go buy off of the guy three shops down...it's up to you."  actually works!
*the average Nepali family has two children, 10 years ago, it was more like 5 or 6
*to rent a small apartment in Kathmandu costs around $20 a month. a decent-sized, nicer one would be around $200.
*95% of adult nepali women wear traditional Nepali attire...the rest (younger ladies) wear western garb
*speaking of clothing/fashion, I just realized today that I have not seen ONE thread/sliver/garment with neon in it, is neon, or once upon 1984 was neon. crazy because it's everywhere in the States
*the three candy bars I have seen in every country (as I remember) I've been to are Snickers, Mars and Twix
*sometimes you will see a naked Nepali baby just walking in the street or on the sidewalk. true story
*saw two tipped over tanker trucks today and one large accident...5 hr drive. i seriously can't put into words the level of danger on these highways. a perfect comparison might be, a non-stop game of chicken being played on curves and valleys whilst dodging walkers and rock slides.
*at the wreck, everyone just got out of their cars and walked around. 
*nepali people almost never get divorced. they believe in once married, it's truly for life.  #REFRESHING
*Dave and I got our laundry done for $20/each last night --- thrilling! actually as 100% of our clothes - worn or not yet worn were 100% moist/damp, it was SO GOOD to find that place in a pinch
*hotels here sometimes give you used flip flops to wear around.
*i told a shopkeeper that Dave was Nepali and she immediately said, "no he's too big for Nepali"...lol. told you they know they're little!
*many Nepali men when hot just tuck their tee halfway under and expose dem abs doe. actually never abs, but tummies.
*let me say that despite Kathmandu's rich culture and UNESCO world heritage site(s) status, I don't think it could EVER be possible to live here and relax. I ask a lot of people the same questions and I've yet to meet someone who says they like Kathmandu. everyone (locals) likes Pokhara.
*saw a Godfather's Pizza today --- NO LIE! ^photo attached. now, if it were only a Little Caeser's ($5 for gourmet?!?!) , I could envision myself living here.
*here's a real exciting one; nepali people have little to no arm/leg/facial hair. smooth bunch of tittle otters. compare them to maybe...Grecians per se, NO CONTEST.

sorry if the notes were a little slow tonight!...spent a lot of the day in the car and waiting on flight status (surprising I bet!). either way, we're gearing up for a huge tomorrow and then zam!...we're on our way outta here next morn.

time to post, share a couple pics & prep for 4:30 wakeup. sending my best of bestest! see what you can do this month to step outside of your comfort zone. I preach it a LOT (if you work w/me [God bless] you hear it all the time), but only because I really believe in it. "a comfort zone is a nice place to be, but nothing ever grows there." my other huge travel preaching point is a metaphor. say for a foodie. if your favorite food in the whole world is cake. and you truly love it, then how can you ever know what the BEST cake is (or even "good" cake) or what kind of cake you actually like if you only ever taste one kind? for a cake lover, that's pushing blasphemy. what if the first and only cake you ever had was from the Wal-Mart bakery (poor wretch!)? my soul Is dying at the thought.  so where I'm going with this is that you can't truly know what you love, until you see what all is out there. the globe is way too big to stay huddled in one corner and not take advantage of all the life lessons and priceless growth it has to offer. not only that but lifelong lasting memories that would trump a shiny car or Michael Kors bag (sorry to bully Mike, just a hot name right now) any day of the week! but seriously my beloved friends! okay, off my soapbox and done ranting. just so hard for me not to encourage others to leap at the opportunity to absorb such incredible and priceless moments/self-knowledge. I've never traveled and said it wasn't worth it. 

okay!...blab blab blab! bedtime por moi...few pics first, and then mega ZZZ action. also wanted to add, that if anyone has any Q's they're curious about or pic requests/suggestions, feel free to ask! I'm here to spread the love. 

goodnight & stars to all // sk
 — with David Osorno Vargas at Kathmandu. Napal.

good morning Pokhara

NEPAL CULTURE NOTES // day 9 highs > lows

so before I get into the actual culture in these notes, I'll say that Dave and i's big surprise hope dream of renting a personal helicopter to land on Mt. Everest got dashed to bits when the weather in a Lukla wouldn't cooperate. we were SO bummed at first but I think if we've learned one seriously valuable lesson on this trip, it's that the best adventure comes with flexibility & optimism. like life in general, everything won't always go according to plan, but what happens (or doesn't) after that is up to you.

on this trip we've had 3 plane flights canceled, 2 helicopter flights canceled and the flight that went thru was the one we wanted the least of all 6. also we endured two unexpected 7-hour drives that would make evil knievel wet his good capri pants. but you know what? we haven't hung our heads or moped for more than 5 minutes. instead, we have had an insanely full trip of crazy stories, once in a lifetime thrills & next to no sleep. today kind of exemplifies the entire vacay. our Everest chopper couldn't go but instead, we flew right above it (and the entire Everest range) in a tiny plane, went and saw live cremations at a UNESCO World Heritage Site (I collect these like Beanie Babies in 2001), took pictures with a naked Baba, went and saw another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Boudhanath and rode around insane Kathmandu on motorcycles with our new hotel staff friends. i know this is just one day and it's not typical by any stretch, but it's a great reflection of how I like to think we should aspire to live our lives. there will always be hills and valleys, but how bad do you want to be back on the mountain top? the longer we sulk in the negative vibes, the more great opportunity we let slip by. it was an incredible last full day to what I'd call is fair to say, a feverishly unscripted and incredible trip.

here's tonight's culture notes. thanks to everyone who's taken time to read or care enough to follow along. extra affections to those of you who have taken time to come right out and say that you look forward to reading them. it truly means so much! even if i know only 15-20 of the people I endear are reading along, that is enough for me. travel flows deep in my blood and it genuinely makes me feel on fire to share the love. and here we gooooooo....

*the naked baba today had the best pose of all the babas, even though the one with massive dreads had a good one too. pic attached of course!
*the Nepalese that can afford to do so cremate their dead within 24 hours of the person's passing. for low castes, it would cost around $200USD and for the higher castes, it would be around $600USD.
*a temple guide told us today that Nepal means Never Ending Peace And Love. hostility is minimal here and it's in the air that peace is important to their culture now that the chaos of a few years back is done.
*the Nepalese are generally a very modest and low key people. sure kathmandu is absolutely nuts, but there are a lot of reasons for that which would take pages to explain. 
*i have yet to see ONE HINT of a PDA (between straight couples that is) since being in Nepal, this includes hand holding. wild right?!
*the power in Nepal shuts down every night at 10pm. Dave and I think they run generators at night to keep small things running, like fans and night lights.
*the primary deity in all of Hinduism is Lord Shiva. he is their almighty as God is to Christians, Buddha to Buddhists, etc.
*Buddhists believe in heaven or hell. I had no idea???
*getting a VISA to the U.S. from Nepal is VERY challenging...unless maybe you want to go live in northeast Columbus. 
*despite not having much, in general, the Nepalese seem a very happy people. from the kids without video games to the adults without flashy possessions, the vibe in the air and the collective attitude here is very warm.
*most Nepali people know where Ohio is.
*Mother Theresa founded a convalescent style home in the world's most important Hindu temple, Pashupati. we visited it and took pictures of the 250 residents. full-time admission requires that you be 60+ and have no financial means or help from children.
*if it rains hard in a Nepali city, the power is probably gone then too
*in 8 days, one of approximately 100 Lukla flights has actually taken off. once en. route, they called and told the airport to cancel for the rest of the day. one has not flown since. SUPER VOLATILE.
*Dave has tried Nepal Ice beer and Everest beer and said Nepal Ice is better. obviously, I had a mojito & a cappuccino...lol.
*the pilots on the Everest range flight let us in the cockpit
*after a 10-minute deep discussion, Dave and I figured out the entire hipster movement and why it refuses die. it felt like we discovered what truly came first, the chicken or the egg...that level of epic.
*we also discovered that the (majority of) kind of white guys/gals that like to visit Nepal lean towards the bohemian vibe. there are no Hispanics or Africans or African-Americans here, so these bohos stick out like sore thumbs...lol.
*something kind of cool when traveling global - when I see a mixed group of ethnicities hanging out or trotting together, there's always a good chance they're American. like the army nation, diversity is a signature of who we are.

gonna keep these Notes short because I have so many fab pics to post tonight. I hope at least one of them makes you laugh, smile or roll your eyes. these days will be the kind I'll tell my grandchildren about, so if not for you...just know how exciting and impactful they are for me.  just trying to drag you along!

be good to each other everybody. love is the one need that will always be free.

xx & stars // sk
 — with David Osorno Vargas at Pashupati Nath Temple Area.

naked baba & i go way back.

NEPAL CULTURE NOTES // day 10 reflection + ratings


I have to start this off by saying Dave left this morning and I still feel kinda naked and lost without him. it doesn't feel right to tour the city without him. as much as that sounds like a sad little boy band nod to Dave, it's really a genuine notion. now, I have traveled alone more than once but when you so triumphantly overcome the hysteria & challenges we've gone thru the last week and a half and still have an incredible journey, you feel like a strong little team or something cute like that. against many odds, we saw so dang much, absorbed so many moments, laughed constantly and I'm so grateful he was able to join me when I promised myself this was a country I wouldn't do alone. also, of all the places I've been, I would never recommend Nepal to the solo traveler. it's a super interesting and culture rich country, but I think it's simply best with company. reasons below...


I have to admit that I always get a little sad and emotional when I leave a country I've visited (laugh as you wish!) but there's fair justification I think. I guess when I travel I like to think that I leave a tiny piece of me wherever I go, whether it's with the people I met along the way, the small struggling shops I supported, the sad animals I petted, the children I gave candy or gum to, or in a pay it forward kind of way, to those who I hope to have inspired to save for a plane ticket.

I have to say that before speaking of the hardships, my heart truly goes out to this little mountain country. after all we've been through here, to me Nepal feels like its trying so hard to better itself but has no leverage or way to do so. the people are small in stature but mighty in warmth and besides the occasional bad apple, they'd honestly give you the shirt off their backs for a simple smile in exchange. this kind of thing never shows up in travel brochures (i.e. the Eiffel Tower), but you take it home with you and you feel it all around. the Nepalese in my opinion deserve better than their current situation, but it feels like a country struggling to survive between a rock and a really tough space. when you visit places like this, it changes your mind a bit about life, about how you spend your money and about who you share your planet with.

on a lighter note, Nepal has a lot to offer for the extreme adventurer but she is not for the weak of heart. she is certainly not for most. if a few leeches or flight cancellations are going to get in your way from having a smashing time, then you should probably look elsewhere.  not to sound rude or snobbish of course, but honestly that's the truth. I mean, this isn't Paris and I wouldn't want it to be, but like I was telling Dave, the best travel stories usually come from the heaviest adventures and those often come holding hands with third world nations. one of my all-time favorite quotes is as follows.

"true adventure doesn't begin until something goes wrong." - no idea

not that you can't have dreamy times in the City of Lights, but I've been there twice now and I can't think of one good story I've shared since. Nepal is quite the opposite. I lie to you not, our ENTIRE trip itinerary went off plan. thee only thing that didn't change from our ten day setup was where we stayed our first night in country. after that, everything went into this wild travel blender and now we have this incredibly unexpected suitcase of memories and tales to pass along. if you don't believe me, give one of us an hour to talk your head off. 

seriously though, I feel like Nepal threw everything she had at us, and we truly came out on top. mountain puns aside, we took all adversity in smooth stride and I think because of that, the overall portrait of this painted journey is a bit brighter and sweeter. if you have a wild nature streak somewhere inside, and can handle a violently flexible itinerary, then you could be in for the trip of a lifetime here. like I said, it's very easy to have a phenomenal week in Paris, but it's different you know?

there's a HUGE rift between travel and adventure. sometimes you can have both. vacation is in a similar but separate category. I wouldn't classify this as a vacation, rather an extreme adventure. we never stopped moving.

I'd say in the end, this will go down as one of my best travel experiences I'll ever know. sure I've got a lot of I miles left in the tank, but Nepal truly is like no other and will always take a small corner in my wanderlust spirit. it wasn't relaxing at all, we never knew what was next, ate average at best food, had every transportation dilemma possible, wore damp clothes for four days straight, had raging headaches, sunburns and upset stomachs, had 38 leech bites, didn't have 4G LTE anywhere and had basically none of the conveniences of home. but this is Nepal you know? if you even want to see a glimpse of Mt. Everest, it's really freaking hard. think about it though....when I wrap up all that discomfort into a minus ball and still say I'd do it all over again and I loved every day of it (even the worst ones), then there's something there. it's true that when you visit places like this, it changes your mind a bit about life, about how you spend your money and about who you share your planet with. you truly can't put a price on that kind of growth.

also, remember everyone, "a comfort zone is a nice place to be, but nothing ever grows there." - no idea on this one either

taking a step back to observe, Nepal is special and should be treated as such. I've got a lot of places to see before I'm done, but from a semi-experienced globetrotter, please never scratch this place off of your list. unlike the negatives, the positives are genuinely too many to list so I share hope that my photos and to-be YouTube video will do plenty of talking on behalf of this sweet yet bruised little nation. Nepal the mightily unique,

amazing adventures, better stories, best people.


the people - 9/10
cost - 2/10
favoritism - 7/10
romance - 3/10
adventure - 10/10
sleep - 1/10
sites - 7/10
nightlife - 1/10
nature - 9/10
the wildlife - 4/10
food - 3/10
shopping - 2/10
tourist overload - 2/10
redoability - 4/10
culture - 8/10
safety - 8/10

thank you again to everyone who has followed along with our volatile + scene-rich journey. I would never write this stuff if it wasn't moving to me, or if I thought it couldn't open eyes. next stop, Mauritius in November.

xx & stars // sk

(Everest flight photo from iPhone)
 — with David Osorno Vargas.

grainy, zoomed iPhone Everest

time to post & snooze.  

sending my best...i hope this inspires at least one wandering soul somewhere out there to check out nepal.  i couldn't find a review this comprehensive anywhere on the internet, so by all means - if you know any nepal-bound travelers, or nepal-curious travelers, feel free to direct them this way.

buy the ticket & go my friends.  of all the things i've ever spent money on, travel is one that i have never regretted.  

stars & dreams --- sk